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May 6, 2011

'Arsenal takeover will not be leveraged'

Major Arsenal shareholder Stan Kroenke has revealed that his takeover at the Emirates will not be funded by a leveraged buy-out.

• Arsenal get Vermaelen boost

Having taken his share of the club's equity to 63% with the purchase of shares owned by former directors Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and the recently deceased Danny Fiszman, Kroenke was bound by UK takeover law to offer a price for the rest of the shares. An offer document has now been displayed on Arsenal's website.

"The offer will not be funded by way of any debt finance for which the payment of interest on, repayment of or security for any liability will depend on the business of Arsenal," said a note in the document released by KSE, UK Inc, the company used by Kroenke to buy the club.

This approach is in marked contrast to the Glazer family takeover of Manchester United in 2005, and the subsequent Hicks and Gillet buy-out of Liverpool that ended in severe losses last autumn. Kroenke, according to the website statement, "has committed to continue to operate the Club in line with our existing self-sustaining business model".

"Mr Kroenke has a proven track record of successful long-term investment in sport and has confirmed that he has asked the existing Board to remain in place," it continued. "This includes Mr Peter Hill-Wood as Chairman. Mr Kroenke is also fully supportive of Manager Arsène Wenger whom he has stated is a wonderful manager."

Kroenke's purchase price of £11,750 per share values the club at £731 million, though he will not have to pay all that price as Alisher Usmanov, the Russo-Uzbek businessman who also had designs on owning the club, has pledged to keep his 27.1% in the club, which has been welcomed by supporters' groups.

In the meantime, Gunners fans have been hit with a price hike for match tickets, and this has met with no little disquiet and Arsene Wenger has tried his best to explain the increase.

"We try in every single way to increase our income to fight with the other clubs, but the resources will always be down to three different incomes - media, sponsorship and gate receipts," said Wenger, who is set to compromise the team's usual pre-season build-up by going on a lucrative overseas tour this summer.

"We tried to keep the [ticket] increase as low as possible, and we spoke about that at the board meeting. Unfortunately the expenses always go up. We do not master the expenses because the expenses are dictated by our opponents.

"That is why the [UEFA] financial fair play [rules] are so important because we are pushed into a situation that we do not master because if our opponents do not respect the financial fair play, our expenses will always go up and we can only reflect that as low as possible on the ticket prices."

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